Tuesday, May 29, 2018

weekly theme :: CRAVING and DESIRE

craving desire

The Nature of Craving and Desire

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

Are cravings and desires synonyms? 

To put it another way, are they two words for the same thing? Instead, maybe they are degrees of the same thing? Many times in life a simple desire like wanting to eat lunch can become more and more serious as the hours' tick by and by. 

That same simple desire to eat can evolve into a craving for nourishment that is altogether physical, mental and emotional. Perhaps I desire a small drink to take the edge off, only to succumb gradually to the constant craving for alcohol that the alcoholic knows all too well. 

Desires seem to be more manageable. 

Cravings lend themselves to a more insidious and desperate appearance. Cravings seem to create more frustration in us than simple desires. That which we crave frustrates us. Desires seem to be more easily satisfied whereas cravings never seem to be satisfied.

The original quote of the first Buddha was “Stop desiring what will not be obtained.” This is a highly intellectualized, yet painfully simple, approach to the problem of craving and addiction. If we continue to desire that which we cannot obtain, cravings begin to take root.

So where does that leave us in dealing with cravings? The fact is we cannot be perpetually high. Even if by some miracle of science we could create a medication that would allow us to feel a constant undeterred state of joy and pleasure with every breath and step, it would backfire.

Perpetual joy without sorrow would become a living hell. 

Always feeling good would become a blank feeling because we would have no variance. As we see in nature countless times over, peaks accompany valleys, highs come with lows, waves are followed by troughs. A perpetual mountain would be absurd. However, the nature of an addict, in the midst of a craving, is akin to this insurmountable obstacle of mountains after mountains.

This week let’s look at the nature of cravings and how cravings lead to relapse.
Let’s also explore how practicing mindfulness, “nowness” and present-mindedness combats feelings of craving.

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired by Clinical and Holistic Therapies such as; Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group, EMDR and Movie with Meaning therapies.
126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Monday, May 21, 2018

weekly theme :: Chinese Element WOOD - Practicing Forgiveness

wood forgiveness

This week, we explore one of the 5 Chinese Elements: "WOOD".  

We do this by discussing and practicing Forgiveness.

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver based on Ryan Thompson's take on "Forgiveness"

Forgiveness is not giving up nor is it admitting defeat

Forgiveness is about taking power back and making a conscious decision to let go of resentments, pain, and anger. Some people are not ready to forgive and rightly so, what about victims of sexual assault and violence as well as people who have suffered physical, emotional abuse, and unearned shame? Is it not appropriate to feel rage or become victimized due to events that have happened directly or indirectly to us? 

We can become consumed by our suffering and have our whole worldview including our biases and attitude be controlled by our suffering and resentments. When we look objectively at how our resentments have power over us we can see how we engage in belittling ourselves and in turn increase our own self-loathing and even convince ourselves we deserve it, or we act upon anger and allow it to dominate our actions and perceptions of the world.

It is about making a personal statement

Forgiveness can begin the process of emotionally disconnecting ourselves from the events and pain that we have used to define us. Forgiveness is not about forgetting or even making a statement that what happened to create the resentment is acceptable, it is about making a personal statement that one does not want to be emotionally controlled by the events, memories, and perception of self that resentments create.

There are many ways to forgive

Some clients are ready to forgive, and we can foster that by asking the question and helping the client find the answer to; how. There are many ways to forgive and the least of all is giving the terrible advice of “Just let this go.” Well, How? How do people “let go” how do people forgive? For some it is a mere acknowledging that the incident(s) occurred, facing the emotions that arise and stating forgiveness. 

Others need rituals or prayer to assist in maintaining the intention of forgiveness. Forgiveness can act like the tide of the ocean or the changing moon and our resentments can creep back in, even after we have made the conscious decision to forgive. In this case, one needs to repeat the action of forgiveness and take a little more power back until the resentment has eventually been drained and the individual is free from that resentment.

It is our job to help foster forgiveness...

...and more importantly to help the client answer the question of how to forgive. It is also not our job to push someone to forgive when they are not ready as those individuals may still need to be further defined or come to a better understanding or acknowledge lessons to be learned from the experience before they become willing and ready to forgive. Even if that lesson is to realize how much damage and influence these resentments have had in our lives, and then we can pose the question

“Are you ready to let this go?”

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired by Clinical and Holistic Therapies such as; Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group, EMDR and Movie with Meaning therapies.
126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Monday, May 14, 2018

weekly theme :: Chinese Element FIRE - JOY AND SORROW

Fire. Joy and Sorrow

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

This week we explore the Chinese element: FIRE. 

We do this through examing Joy & Sorrow.
These two feelings seem to lie on either end of the emotional spectrum. They go by other names: Manic Depression, Bipolar Disorder, or the downplayed colloquialism, Ups and Downs.

Medical Code

We all have joyous days and sorrowful days but if we oscillate between joy and sorrow too quickly and too often, it is often considered an issue. An issue that has a special name and medical code. An issue to be considered. But how?

Joy is easy to experience. 

So is the mania for the most part. Busy, busy, busy is almost a badge of honor in this culture. To not be busy would imply laziness or disinterest. Ask someone how they are doing today and you will more often than not hear the breathless reply, "busy!" Which is either a polite way to say that chit-chatting with me is a waste of your time or you want me to know you are an ambitious, go-getter. Either way, I think I'll pass. High time we embraced depression and sadness, and those languid, lovely summer afternoons with nuttin' ta do.

Default Response.

I often think, "How would Lao Tzu respond to the question,, "How are you today"? Likely by pointing to the spot in the sky where the moon will soon be. Or perhaps he would give a ubiquitous "Oh fair to middlin'!". He most certainly would not say "busy busy busy." Alas, we digress and wander off the path.

Sorrow spaws Joy. 

Folks generally have no issue with manically joyous behaviors and feelings. It is the polar opposite that troubles them. However, is anything truly gained or discovered when we are happy? To be honest, depression and sorrow have taught me more about myself, compassion, and the suffering of others far more than joy has revealed. Being present at the moment with joy is as easy as falling off a log. Takes no effort at all. But sadness? Yikes, that is brutal. Being sad immediately makes one think "I need to stop being sad!". Alas, rejecting the present moment, with all its clues and cries, is unwise.

The math is simple. 

High highs = low lows. Higher highs = lower lows. At some point, you have to ask yourself, "Do I want to ride the carousel or the roller coaster?".

This week we will delve into our passions and depressions. The heat of joy and the cold chill of depression. We will practice being present and engaged with both. Feeling intense emotions is not a sickness or mental disorder. It is the human condition.
Avoiding our intense emotions or worse, editing them, IS a mental disorder.

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired by Clinical and Holistic Therapies such as; Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group, EMDR and Movie with Meaning therapies.
126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Monday, May 7, 2018

weekly theme :: BOUNDARIES

earth 5 elements

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

EARTH - We are bound to it

This week, we will focus on the 1 OF THE 5 CHINESE ELEMENTS: EARTH. Let's think of the most challenging situations and the best way to establish boundaries. Let's identify patterns of what boundaries you feel are often crossed, the consequences that follow, and how to establish healthy boundaries in all areas of your life.

Imaginary lines are virtual guardrails

Personal boundaries are imaginary lines similar in formlessness and function as the invisible lines that separate countries, states and other masses of land and sea. Knowing where New York ends and Pennsylvania starts is useful and imaginary boundary lines are a convenient convention to that end. Knowing when you have entered into another country, with a whole new set of rules and language, is good to know. So mapmakers and gerrymandering politicians were kind enough to let us know with signs and signals when boundary lines are neared.

Establish mutual respect between two groups

Setting and practicing good boundaries can strengthen relationships and establish mutual respect between two groups. For example, if an old friend with pockets full addictive substances shows up, I need clear boundaries. I need to make that person aware that I walk a new path and my pockets are empty. This leads us to another important skill: communication. I need to explain clearly what my expectations are and what my corrective actions will entail. If I am interested in someone, I need to communicate that to the person of interest. Otherwise, they may just think we are friends and slap you when you make an advance out of the blue.

Spoken limitations and nonverbal clues

Personal boundaries are rules or limits that a person creates to identify permissible ways for other people to behave towards them. These personal boundaries may be spoken but are more often a combination of spoken limitations and nonverbal clues.

Nina Brown proposed four personal boundary types:

1. Soft - A person with soft boundaries merges with other people's boundaries. Someone with a soft boundary is easily a victim of psychological manipulation. 

2. Spongy - A person with spongy boundaries is like a combination of having soft and rigid boundaries. They permit less emotional contagion than soft boundaries but more than those with rigid. People with spongy boundaries are unsure of what to let in and what to keep out.

3. Rigid - A person with rigid boundaries is closed or walled off so nobody can get close either physically or emotionally. This is often the case if someone has been the victim of physical, psychological, or sexual abuse. Rigid boundaries are usually based on a bad previous experience in a similar situation.

4. Flexible - This person decides what to let in and what to keep out and is resistant to emotional and psychological techniques aimed at manipulating them. They are difficult to exploit.

Much of boundary setting practice involves knowing yourself well enough to know what is and is not allowed. This week we will explore concrete examples of boundary making successes and errors. We will practice and role-play various situations and explore together how healthy boundaries can aid us in transforming and outlining

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired by Clinical and Holistic Therapies such as; Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group, EMDR and Movie with Meaning therapies.
126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

weekly theme :: MANIPULATION


Manipulation is Motivation

Author: Sifu Matthew Carver

The original definition of manipulating translates as “handful”

The idea of getting your hands on something so that you may influence it in some way or another. What is even more interesting is the antonym of manipulating. The opposite is “to leave alone.” To not touch something. To not affect it, whether it be an object or a human life. Hands off.

Bringing it together

When you explore it, what is life but manipulation? Getting your hands on people and things.
Connecting. If you knock on my treatment center door and I say “I'm busy!” I just manipulated you into leaving me alone, assuming you leave. However, if they say “come in” and you do, you have also been manipulated. If I ask you to go to dinner with me and you say “not in a million years” then you just refused my manipulation. If I ask you to join me to dance and you accept, I manipulated
you. Teaching a child how to learn the alphabet is strongly encouraged in school. Strongly
encouraging someone is manipulation.

Fact is, manipulation is not a “bad” word. It gets a very bad rap these days, but it needn’t.

Most, if not all, addicts and alcoholics are blue-ribbon, first prize manipulators. Just like the
knowledge of where pressure points on the body are located is not bad, in and of itself.
However, if you use that knowledge to dim mak (google death-touch) someone causing them
great harm, then yes it is bad. If we use that same knowledge to apply acupuncture to a patient
to heal, then it is good.

Positive “handful”

Manipulation is the same way. It can be used in a way that generates life-affirming principles and positive regard for people and life. Or, it can be used to terrorize, harm and force people into unwanted scenarios.

Not every tool is a hammer

A manipulation is a tool that many addicts have in abundance. Often times, it is wielded as a tool
for fulfilling our desires. A grasping sort of manipulation. Narrowly self-focused. Conversely,
with guidance, practice, and repetition, this ability to manipulate can become a vehicle for life-
affirming principles and generalized goodness. This is sort of manipulation is like an invitation.
An invitation to another person to join us in the spirit of play and personal growth.

Call or contact Zen Recovery Path. Our community welcomes a fresh start. Recovery will be inspired by Clinical and Holistic Therapies such as; Art Projects, Kung Fu Classes, Tai Chi, Music group, EMDR and Movie with Meaning therapies.
126 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(800) 759-1930